Cobra beer’s comedy tastes flat

Guest blogger: David Nichols, brandgym Managing Partner and leader of our Invention Practice

I’ve just run away from the TV. Not something I do often. But the ads I watched from Cobra, the Indian beer, were so annoying that just turning the TV off was not enough. The ads are to promote Cobra’s sponsorship of  comedy on “lads” TV Channel, Dave. These ads are part of the brand’s push to expand beyond their heartland in Indian restaurants, where they built a good, but limited business, by positioning themselves as a less gassy beer ideal to eat with curry.

Picture 1

These ads show the risk with what we call “sponsored entertainment”: funny, amusing ads where the brand’s role is limited to one of endorser. Get it bang on, and the viral effect of the ad is so big, then the brand benefits, even in the absence of a strong product message. We saw this in an earlier post on Cadbury’s gorilla ad.

The problem with the Cobra ads is that they are as funny as a flat pint of beer. They try to position Cobra as the witty mate full of amusing stories that you love to chat to over a pint. Unfortunately, the brand comes across as the annoying twat at the bar who thinks he’s a lot funnier than he really is. Here’s one: Voice Over: “Why are they called chillis, when they are so hot.” 

Picture 2Get it? Ha bloody ha. And the other 7 are just as bad.

To make things worse, each of the 8 ads is rotated over the evening. Watch a couple of hour’s TV and you might see each one 10 times. Not only is the Cobra comedian unfunny. He keeps repeating the same crap joke over and over and over and over again, despite the fact all he is getting is the cold shoulder and evil looks. 

Cobra might have been inspired by the use of sponsored entertainment by beer brands in the UK. Each took a slightly different cut on being the ‘comedian at the bar’. But each really hit the mark. Here are a few samples to tickle your fancy:

Carling “Dambusters” 

Budweiser – “Wassup” 

John Smiths – “Top Bombing”

So, if you are going to do sponsored entertainment, make sure you are really entertaining. A bubbly pint of evervescent beer, not a glass of flat Cobra.